I'm always on the lookout for tools to help make me more efficient, so I was wondering what kinds of tools, other than IDEs/text editors (these have been covered in a few questions), that people use to make themselves more productive.

Here's a list of the tools I currently find useful:

  • Launchy - application launcher, to make launching apps much faster
  • VirtuaWin - Lightweight virtual desktop manager, to make it easier to manage the many windows/apps I have to use.
  • Process Explorer - Task manager replacement, which besides regular Task Manager tasks I use as a simple resource usage measurement tool (can see the CPU, memory, and other stats for the apps I'm working on).
  • TCPView - GUI for netstat, for debugging simple network issues. Also lets you close net connections, which can be helpful for testing network error handling in my apps.
  • Wireshark - packet tracer, for debugging network issues
  • cygwin - For a good commandline experience in windows. I find I can be a lot more efficient at some things by using the command line, and I find zsh much easier and more powerful to use than cmd. Also, using xTerms in rootless mode gives me command line windows that are easier to handle (resize just like any other window, unlike cmd windows).
  • Synergy - software-based KVM. Lets me use a single keyboard and mouse for multiple devel boxes.

Definitely FileMon and RegMon

Adam Haile
+1  A: 

LINQPad, Reflector and Fiddler

Christian Hagelid
+4  A: 

As a web developer my number one productivity app is the Firebug plugin for Firefox. No matter what anyone says there's nothing that comes close for IE...

James Marshall
+8  A: 

This Question has lots of good tools listed.

Mark Biek
+1  A: 

You can find a lot of tools mentioned here

+1  A: 

I've often used Dependency Walker (depends.exe) to figure out what's happening on my system; it does a great job of showing what is imported from other DLLs by by programs and their DLLs. It also integrates nicely with the previously mentioned Process Explorer; PE lets you launch depends on a EXE or DLL that's running in the system.

Ben Combee
+1  A: 

The Regulator A tool for creating and testing regular expressions.

Erik van Brakel
+2  A: 

Heh, I totally didn't see that other post when I did my search. Oops! And I tried to be extra careful not to post a duplicate question...

@Adam: FileMon and RegMon I think are superseded by Process Monitor, as it does both file and registry monitoring. I forgot to mention that one.

@Christian: Fiddler! I can't believe I forgot to mention Fiddler! :) Unfortunately I'm not a .Net guy, so Reflector isn't as helpful, though my coworkers who do use .Net seem to like it.

@Ben: Depends integrates with Process Explorer?! I've poked at depends before, but might have to look at it again if it integrates.

A couple others I forgot to mention:

  • ActionScript Viewer - Decompiler for ActionScript 1 and 2. You have to buy it, but it's been the best decompiler for SWFs I've seen, and has been incredibly helpful in debugging some things.
  • WinMerge - Great visual diffing application. Can diff individual files or folders.
  • 7-zip - Best zip app I've used.
  • Paint.Net - Excellent free image editor.
The integration is that Process Explorer can launch Dependency Walker. You highlight a process, then go to the Process menu and choose "Launch Depends...".
Ben Combee

Console2 is my favorite. Its unfortunate that it no longer seems to work on Vista64 (and possibly 32 as well).


The Web Developer toolbar for firefox is one of my favourites.


Powershell is extremely useful.

Eric Z Beard
+1  A: 

Check out ExamDiff for diffing files on windows

Adam Lerman

Some Virtual Machine software like VMWare or Virtual PC


I'm really into Servant Salamander, one of the many two-paned file managers out there. If you have to move files around a lot, or you like to do everything via keyboard shortcuts, this tool is the best. Plus built-in file archiving, encryption, FTP. Not free, but worth every cent as far as I'm concerned.



Launchy - Win

QuickSilver - Mac

WinSplit Revolution - Win


Visor - mac


CVS ExamDiff File diffs Fiddler HTTP proxy debugging Sysinternals tools Bugtracker.Net

For me these are enough to work


winroll - to collapse windows to only the title bar feedreader unlocker- to delete files wich are locked by programs wireshark mplayer - best video player ever :p and it has also a encoder ffmpeg - the most used video encoder , converter

+1  A: 

Firebug, wireshark and ngrep

Dave Cheney
  • fgrep
  • sed
  • diff
  • command line prompt

Firebug CodeRush from DevExpress NUnit Notepad++ Launchy Read It Later Google Notebook VMWare SubSonic JSON.Net Paint.NET

David Robbins

For WPF developers - KAXAML - For XAML editing and previewing

Jobi Joy

BareGrep, GIMP, FileZilla, jEdit, WinVi, 7-Zip, FireFox add-ons including CssViewer, ColorZilla, MeasureIt, SQLite Manager, Live HTTP Headers, FireBug, etc.


ScreenshotCaptor is great for taking snapshots and quickly annotating them with arrows, text, or boxes. I use it all the time for QA documentation or to point out things to Users.

Ed Griebel